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Cloud Computing

Cloud Considerations

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

There is almost no aspect of our personal and professional lives that does not rely on cloud computing.

In our personal lives, we have at least one streaming service – Netflix, Disney+, Spotify and the list can go on for quite a bit, therefore you are in the cloud. And if you among the rare who doesn’t shell out $10 – $18 monthly for a subscription to one of these businesses, but have photos and music on your phone that can also be accessed from a tablet or laptop, you too are in the cloud. At work, this might have appeared less apparent because how we interact with the cloud may not even when we can access files that don’t sit on our computer hardware, think the use of SharePoint, and now widely used OneDrive. The fact that you and a colleague can work on the same document (in some cases simultaneously) is possible because the document is stored in a cloud.

Wikipedia defines cloud computing as ‘the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage (cloud storage) and computing power, without direct active management by the user.’ The most basic description of the cloud is “all of the things you access remotely over the internet”.

“By 2022, 75% of businesses that implementation work from home during the pandemic will maintain that option for employees”, says Ed Anderson, VP Analyst at Gartner. His statement is echoed by many business leaders and gurus – the pandemic revealed and speed up a trend that was already on its way, employees working from home some days of the week. The cloud is the most essential tool needed for remote work. Whether your business has an IT person/department or not it is important to understand the cloud and what it means for your business – here are three considerations.

1. What kind of cloud do you have? Yes, there are choices

Public cloud is services offered over the public internet and are available to anyone who wants to purchase the services.

It is cloud computing services offered by a third-party provider over the public internet, examples are Amazon’s AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Microsoft Azure. While private cloud services over the internet or private internal network access to select users, therefore not available to the general public.  Hybrid cloud as you may guess is the combination of a public cloud provider with a private cloud platform. It’s important to note that the two cloud infrastructures operate independently of each other but integrate using software and processes that allow them to interact with each other.

It isn’t necessary to choose between public and private, in fact, according to the 2020 State of the Cloud Report, 87% of respondents have a hybrid cloud strategy. Also noteworthy from the same report is 93% have a multi-cloud strategy, speaking to it isn’t simply one or the other but necessary to employ both public and private cloud.

2. Can the Cloud be Secure? Yes and No

Cloud security refers to the technologies, policies, controls, and services used to protect cloud data, applications, and infrastructure from threats. According to this Gartner report, 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault. Of the many security risk companies, most of the exposure comes from inside the organizations – employees, contractors, and business partners. It isn’t from malicious behaviors, but often because of lack of training or negligence. Another factor that poses cloud security risk is businesses failing to have a security strategy before migrating to the cloud.

3. Cloud Strategy, what comes first?

By 2022, Gartner forecasts spending on cloud systems will reach $81 billion as companies are using cloud services for new initiatives or replacing existing systems. For businesses who didn’t previously or had limited cloud services, the pandemic made the quick transition a headache at best for some. Business continuity might have suffered and was costly, as having to scramble to move staff to work virtually. As mentioned before emerging from the pandemic, the way we work has radically changed with very little returning to what was before.

Businesses must consider a cloud-first strategy. Most organizations currently do not have a cloud strategy however this is expected to change going forward. This strategy must include a clear understanding of the business needs and how the cloud securely makes work efficient and as well as what talent is needed to evaluate and implement cloud services.

Creating and executing a cloud strategy helps you to anticipate the benefits and risks associated with the cloud. A few cloud benefits include faster access to infrastructure, greater scalability, business continuity, increased geographic reach, and cost-saving.

Moving your business to the cloud is imperative – it is how will retain and attract new customers; it is how your employees will work better – more efficiently; it is how bedrock of business continuity in the face of disruption (pandemic or weather-related). Simply put, a key element to your business’s survival is predicated on the utilization of the cloud.

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